Burn ICU question


OK, this is kind of broad...I'm a CEN/CCRN who has worked in Medical/Surgical/Cardiac/Cardiothoracic ICUs and the ED, I'm in nurse practitioner school and trying to get a job at the university for tuition benefits. I started looking at the various ICU openings and there was one in the Burn ICU. I've never even really thought about burn before, but it caught my eye and kind of intrigued me, so I applied. From what I understand, it's a small unit that does get a fair amount of overflow from other ICUs due to the fact that it's not a major burn center. I'm not really sure what I might be getting myself into! :-). I've worked with burn patients in the ED (I worked in this same hospital's ED a number of years ago) and I've seen some really bad burns. What is "life" like as a Burn ICU nurse? (told you it'd be broad!)I'm working on my DNP and looking at sepsis and shock for my research. I would guess you deal with that a lot in a Burn ICU? What else could I expect (if I even gt the job, I've just applied at this point)?Thanks!


41 Posts

Specializes in Burns, ICU, Plastic Surgery. Has 3 years experience.

I'm not a nurse yet, but I work as a burn tech at a major burn center. We have a 4 bed ICU and I will begin by saying its just like any other ICU. The main differences are the extensive wound care, high volume of pain meds, working through plastic encased beds (sometimes we keep the temp at 90...so it can be hot and sweaty work). Constant sterile technique while working through plastic can be extremely difficult as well. Many of the burns that go to the ICU have some sort of facial involvement and are intubated...sometimes they might not even be a big burn but there is a high risk of airway compromise. When a new big burn is admitted, it can also take hours to manually debride the burns and put on dressings. There are many many many different types of dressings that are used for burns and you'll learn that with time. As a tech I do a lot of wound care and it has definitely has prepared for nursing.... I love working on burns and a can't wait to start there as a nurse and I'm sure you'll love it too! If you have any more questions, I'd love to answer them!


352 Posts

Has 10 years experience.

OK, I've got an interview! I'm really getting excited about this. I think it'd be a great experience. The recruiter I talked to said that this is kind of a fluke, there are never any openings in this unit (I've never seen one posted before). I guess that's good, must mean staff turnover is low. What sort of things should I be doing to prepare for an interview? Anything in particular that I should read up on? Any questions that I should ask?Thanks!

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

Ask about staffing ratios. (Major burns, at least on my unit, are a 2:1 ICU when first admitted. You end up running A LOT of fluids, meds, etc. on top of immediate dressings, and other burn-specific stuff like assisting with escharotomies.) Ask about how much wound care you (vs. a wound tech) would do. Ask about wound care training - how much you would receive. How many off-service pts do you end up with vs. burn pts?

Infection control is HUGE in burn. It can't hurt to ask how the unit is trying to reduce incidents of CAUTI, VAP, etc.

A lot of burn pts are lower socioeconomic scale. And many can be difficult - we get quite a few who are already previously addicted to alcohol, meth, etc before they come in. (Makes adequate pain control nearly impossible.)